UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund supported over 2mil refugees

IN 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supported 2.1 million vulnerable refugees and internally displaced people through Zakat and Sadaqah funds, thanks to more than 30 institutional partners and stakeholders across the region and globally.

As compared to 2019, Zakat donations witnessed in 2020 an increase of 12.5%, triggering a significant growth in Zakat beneficiaries at 59%.

Contributions received helped UNHCR in providing lifesaving support through the distribution of cash assistance and goods, allowing refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) to address immediate needs including shelter, food, education, healthcare, and debt repayment.

Furthermore, the support provided helped refugees and IDPs to effectively address economic hardships that were further exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of Zakat, Sadaqah, and Sadaqah Jariyah donations received through its Refugee Zakat Fund was highlighted in the recently launched UNHCR’s Annual Islamic Philanthropy Report entitled Islamic Philanthropy – Transforming the Lives of the World’s Displaced.

“Islamic social finance tools have the potential to play even a greater role in responding to humanitarian needs globally when its properly utilised and managed,” commented Amanie Group and Tulus Digital executive chairman Datuk Mohd Daud Bakar.

Among the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, Malaysia has been leading the path with such practices and partnerships between international humanitarian organisations such as UNHCR and Islamic Philanthropy organisations such as Zakat agencies are crucial for that purpose.

Out of the 2.1 million beneficiaries of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund, over 1.6 million individuals have directly benefitted from Zakat funds in 10 countries: Yemen, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, India, Niger, and Pakistan. The remaining 500,000 beneficiaries have benefitted from Sadaqah, Sadaqah Jariyah and purification funds across multiple locations including Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

“We are immensely grateful for the unwavering support and trust of our institutional partners which allowed us to support over two million refugees and IDPs,” UNHCR’s senior advisor on Islamic Philanthropy and representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries Khaled Khalifa said.

“This growing impact is testament to the pivotal role and potential of Islamic Philanthropy in addressing pressing humanitarian crises.”

However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between the needs of displaced families and funds received.

To address the unmet needs of these vulnerable populations in 2021, UNHCR has projected global budget needs at US$9.1 bil, of which US$2.7 bil are needed in countries where it will be distributing Zakat to provide lifesaving support to 24.2 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Mauritania, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Iran, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Somalia.

“With the Holy month of Ramadan upon us, we urge partners to continue supporting refugees and displaced families, most of whom will welcome Ramadan in incredibly difficult circumstances,” added Khalifa. – March 30, 2021

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